Rod Gilbert was like every other Canadian player and fan totally overestimated
the Soviet team. After just a few minutes into game one he felt that his
thoughts were correct.
I got on the ice," remembered Rod Gilbert in Scott Morrison's excellent
book The Days Canada Stood Still, "it was already 2-0. Before I played my
first shift it was 2-0, so I'm sitting on the bench saying, 'Let me on. Let me
score my goals.' I figured it was going to be 15, 17-0, and I wanted to score a
Of course things quickly changed,
and before the end of the game the Russians had the full respect of Gilbert and
the rest of Team Canada.
Gilbert only played in one more game
in Canada, but did play in all 4 games in Moscow. Like the rest of the team,
Gilbert got better as the series went along.
An NHL veteran, Gilbert's leadership
in the dressing room was an important cog of this team. Gilbert's only goal was
in the third period of game 7. That goal gave Team Canada an early shift in
momentum, which they needed to go on to win the game and live to fight another
day. Gilbert was the only Canadian player to get into a fight as well.
That other day of course was game 8,
and literally featured a fight between Gilbert and Evgeni Mishakov who allegedly
kicked Gilbert in the back of the leg.
Gilbert also helped set up an
important goal in that game. He set up Bill White's only goal of the series,
which at the time tied the game at 3.
Gilbert often played with his
boyhood friend and long time NHL centerman Jean Ratelle. However their usual
left wing linemate Vic Hadfield didn't get much of a chance to play. Instead
Dennis Hull often found himself on the Goal A Game line.